“Haller up front, he looks a really good centre-forward,” he said, as per Claret & Hugh. “They paid a lot of money for him. He’s got a couple of good goals already, and he looks a real handful.”
Haller has looked like an absolute home run for Pellegrini’s team thus far. The Frenchman came in for big money this summer, probably more than the east London outfit originally wanted to pay, but he has so far looked like he is worth every single penny. It’s a small sample size at this stage, of course, but it’s a struggle to think of the last time the club had a frontman of this quality. Perhaps you have to go back to the days of Jermaine Defoe in the early 2000s to find a decent comparison, and he’s obviously a very different striker to Haller. The former Eintracht Frankfurt man is an imposing, physical figure who makes life hell for the opposition defence. Villa have looked a bit hit and miss since coming back up to the Premier League, and so Haller could well get on the scoresheet again on Monday. Smith clearly appreciates the impact he’s made and views him as a potential problem for his team, so you expect the Villans to be prepared… but it may not matter.